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The Search for Christian America Paperback – June 1, 1989
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About the Author
Mark A. Noll is McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College, Illinois, and the author and editor of many bestselling books and articles, including "Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind," and "A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada," His most recent book is "Protestants in America," In 1998 he inaugurated the McDonald Family Visiting Chair in Evangelical Theological Studies at the Harvard Divinity School.
George M. Marsden is the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame. His books include "Fundamentalism and American Culture", "Jonathan Edwards: A Life", "The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship", and "The Soul of the American University". He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Top Customer Reviews
Noll, Hatch, and Marsden base their critique on two planks. One is simply that the "Christian Nation" version of American history, particularly the early history of the republic, is wrong. Reflecting a large volume of outstanding scholarship, including some produced by the authors, Noll, Hatch, and Marsden, emphasize the relatively modest role that explicitly Christian thought had in the founding of the republic. Indeed, as they point out, some of the most explicitly Christian features of the Revolutionary period, such as Protestant anti-Catholic bigotry, are some of the least attractive features of this period of American life.Read more ›
The book has held up well since its initial 1980s publication, but recent events cry out for an updated edition.
Though these ideas may seem radical to some readers, Noll et.al. presents a great deal of evidence to back up the work, including references to more scholarly work on the their part and a very helpful and informative bibliographic essay at the end. The text is designed for the general public, so is not cluttered with difficult theological or political concepts, or copious notes.
After reading this, I found I could not consider myself "proud to be an American". Not that America is evil. Noll et.al. show clearly that there is a bit of God and a bit of satan in American history and culture, as there is in every society. But the clear presentation of how far America has been from the ideals of the gospel, and how often this gets covered up, was astounding. I am proud of the good parts- the God parts. But, if I once could, I can not now look at the history any longer and see it as something specially greater than that of other histories and other nations.
When I asked him for help, he did the right thing: said, go and look at the evidence yourself: primary historical documents. Giving me some good ones, I soon discovered that not all what the fundies have been telling is the story. Things taken out of context, paraphrased, others overlooked paints an unrealistic, unhistorical view of what they say is "the golden age of American Christianity."
These three prominent Christian historians in this book give great summary of this historical evidence in this book. What harm is done you ask? This book so aptly demonstrates that this distorts our dialogue over current public issues by incorrectly presenting American history.
They carefully expound the dangers of treating the naturalistic ideals of the founders on par with Scipture and likewise a lack of discernment between God's people and worldly culture.
This book is a short, precise and articulate presentation against the overdramatization of our founding history which zealouts then use to bully both those inside and outside the faith for Godly purposes. Higly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well done and well researched, not for the faint of heart. Even though it is not what us Christian Americans want to hear, it is the truth and that is always better than a feel... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Karl W. Paolini
I had seen this book in my church's library, but hadn't gotten around to reading it until the recent dustup between David Barton and Gregg Frazer regarding Barton's recent book on... Read morePublished on December 26, 2012 by D. T. Kleven
The search goes on for "Christian America." Many seem to find such an America, one that has been built upon Christian principles. Read morePublished on February 4, 2012 by Bradley P. Hayton
Anything by any of these authors is always informative and well-researched. The only caveat I have about this book is that, published in 1989, it seems to be a trifle too... Read morePublished on September 8, 2010 by David Aikman
I get frustrated every time I talk to a fellow evangelical who has uncritically bought into the mythology that America was founded as a "Christian Nation" by "Christian Founding... Read morePublished on May 26, 2009 by Robert W. Robinson